By Evie Andreou
AROUND 40 per cent of cancer cases can be avoided with prevention and timely diagnosis, Health minister George Pamporidis said on Thursday to mark World Cancer Day, adding that some campaigns in Cyprus have proven effective and actually saved lives.
There are more than 3,000 new cancer cases in Cyprus each year, while around 1,200 people die annually from the disease, he said. Breast cancer is the biggest killer of women in Cyprus, propelling the island to the top of the list of all EU member states.
But the introduction of prevention and awareness campaigns, such as free breast examinations of all women between 50 and 67, has helped save lives. In the case of the free colon cancer screening of men and women aged 50 to 69 in the Larnaca district, the programme helped save 75 lives so far, Pamporidis said.
The minister said that cancer is the second biggest cause of death in Europe, while it is estimated that one in three Europeans is likely to become a cancer patient.
“Worldwide, around 11 million people get cancer each year, while around 8.2 million deaths are recorded”.
“Cancer is not invincible. It can be cured if detected on time, that is why it is unfortunate that cancer is spreading rampantly,” Pamporidis said.
He added that “our allies in the battle against cancer are awareness, and healthy life choices, while fear and ignorance are the enemies.”
Another new initiative, the minister said, is the free vaccination of all girls aged between 12 and 13 against cervical cancer, which will begin in September.
He added that a centre specialising in breast cancer is expected to be implemented within the year and that his ministry is in close cooperation with all cancer patient groups and thanked them for their efforts which benefit society and public health.
Dr. Adamos Adamou, representing all non-governmental organisations (NGOs) supporting cancer patients and their families, said that the February 4 international motto of “We can – I can” stresses that there are solutions to engage cancer and they are feasible, but that systematic targeting is needed and state contribution is essential.
He also expressed the need for the government to provide palliative care to cancer patients since at the moment this type of service is only offered by NGOs.
According to Eurostat information on cancer released on Wednesday, Cyprus shares a sad lead as the highest share of deaths due to breast cancer among the female population together with Malta, followed by Luxembourg and Belgium.
Cyprus, according to the same statistics, is also third in deaths caused from prostate cancer, estimated at 14 per cent, together with Finland, while it had the fewest deaths among EU members caused from colorectal cancer.
According to Eurostat, one in four deaths recorded in the EU in 2013, was due to cancer.
The most fatal rate of cancer among men in the EU is lung cancer, while for women it is breast cancer.